Three Dollar Deweys opened in 1980 at Fore and Union streets in Portland, then moved in 1995 to the above location, at 241 Commercial St. Staff photo by Kelley Bouchard

Three Dollar Deweys, a pub that’s been a staple of the Old Port for nearly 40 years and that helped to launch Maine’s craft beer scene, has closed.

“The family has made the decision to retire,” a sign posted on the door over the weekend said. “Our family has been honored sharing this time with you. Family traditions have a way of continuing forward.”

Reached Monday morning, co-owner Donald Berry said the pub closed Saturday night. He declined to comment further, except to say, “We’re in a little bit of shock and everything.”

Three Dollar Deweys is owned by Berry and Sandra Marston, according to city records. The four-story building that houses the pub is owned by SLM Properties in Portland. Sandra Marston and SLM Properties Inc. bought the building in 1994 for $300,000. The property is currently assessed at more than $1.5 million, according to city records.

Calls to a number listed for SLM repeatedly went to what sounded like a fax machine.

Three Dollar Deweys opened in 1980 at Fore and Union streets – a spot so popular it has a Facebook page, “Old Three Dollar Deweys.” Said to be a hangout of 1980s Brat Pack actor and Falmouth native Judd Nelson, it had communal tables long before they became fashionable in Portland restaurants, free popcorn and chili that customers raved about. In 1995, the bar moved to 241 Commercial St. The new location opened with 36 taps, unheard of at the time and double the number found at the old spot, with more Maine-made microbrews and unfamiliar beers from around the world.

“The family has made the decision to retire,” says a sign posted on the door of Three Dollar Deweys on the weekend. Staff photo by Kelley Bouchard

The groundbreaking pub was founded by Alan D. Eames, a “beer anthropologist” and author known as “the Indiana Jones of beer.” Eames, who died in 2007 at age 59, traveled the globe searching for and studying exotic brews in 44 countries. His obituary in The New York Times said Eames was known for crawling into Egyptian tombs and traveling down the Amazon in search of new knowledge about ancient beers. He often talked of trekking into the Andes “in pursuit of an ancient brew made from strawberries the size of baseballs,” according to the obituary.

In the 2016 book “Brewing in Maine,” author Tom Major wrote that Deweys “was unlike any other bar in Maine, or probably the United States. Budweiser and other macrobrews were not served. Instead, patrons drank Anchor Steam and draft Guinness, as well as exotic beers discovered on Eames’ many journeys.”

Deweys’ state and city liquor licenses were scheduled to expire Wednesday, according to the city’s licensing and registration coordinator.

 

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